Homebuilder executives and economists predict a post-Super Bowl bounce in demand for residential construction as Americans turn their attention from football to another national pastime: house hunting.
The chief executive officers of six of the 10 largest U.S. homebuilders cited the potential of a sales comeback in the spring, traditionally their strongest season, during conference calls in the last four weeks. Housing forecasts from Fannie Mae and the Mortgage Bankers Association show the new-home market will begin a rebound that will last through at least 2012.
A revival in demand for new houses after record-low sales in 2010 may bolster a U.S. economy that’s 19 months into a recovery. Residential construction is a key factor in gross domestic product because it requires the manufacturing of home components such as stoves, cement, tile and furnaces. Richard DeKaser, an economist at Boston-based Parthenon Group, said he expects the homebuilding industry will this year make its first positive contribution to GDP since 2005.
“The spring market is going to be the first test of the proposition that there’s an underlying improvement in new-home fundamentals,” DeKaser said in an interview. “If we don’t see the needle move, it will be very discouraging.”
New-home sales probably will rise 20 percent to 385,000 this year, said David Crowe, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders in Washington. Fannie Mae, the world’s largest mortgage buyer, projected an 18 percent gain, and the Mortgage Bankers Association estimated a 10 percent advance, according to forecasts posted on their websites.